Formula One has Monaco, IndyCar has ‘The 500’, and the DTM has the Norisring. The quick, street circuit is the most iconic venue in the series and always provides some exceptional touring car action.
Set amongst the imposing architecture of Nuremberg’s ‘Zeppelinfeld’, only twice (in 1985 and 1986) has the Norisring failed to make an appearance on the DTM calendar since 1984, a stat defining the circuit’s value to the series.
This weekend looks set to once again produce fireworks as the championship battle intensifies amongst physical racing.
The Norisring is the shortest lap on the DTM calendar, 2.3km, but each of the eight turns present a unique challenge to drivers who must adapt to surface changes, bumpy braking zones, and the uncompromising barriers.
After blasting across the start/finish line the drivers will be dropping the anchor at 260kmh for the Grundig Kehre, one of the most iconic corners on the calendar. The power of DRS and the push-to-pass system in the current Class One machinery will make the hairpin arguably the best overtaking opportunity of the lap.
However, those who are unrelenting in their defence may be able to hold out through the right-left at the Schöller-S, which sees drivers aim for the Armco and skip across concrete paving laid decades ago.
In contrast to the previous round at Misano, Italy, the drivers have no room for error as any mistake is punished by the steadfast barriers that line the circuit.
Mercedes and BMW shared the spoils of the 2018 races at the Norisring, that were typically thrilling with wheel-to-wheel action on every lap.
Eduardo Mortara raced hard from pole to take his tenth DTM win in race one after holding off fellow Mercedes driver, and eventual champion, Gary Paffett as BMW’s Marco Wittmann made it a three-way fight at the front.
Race two saw a seven-car battle for the lead but local hero Wittmann, who was born less than 30km away from the circuit, made several overtakes en route to his first home victory. The current BMW Team RMG driver was joined on the podium by Mortara and R-Motorsport’s Daniel Juncadella.
What to Expect
One word best describes the Norisring: atmosphere. With a captivating history both on and off the track, it is no surprise there is rarely an empty seat in the grandstands as the crowd audibly compete with the cars.
The two races this year will undoubtedly match the excitement of previous visits as drivers seek to tame the powerful Class One DTM machinery around the only street circuit on the calendar.
The new DRS and push-to-pass rules will make it particularly difficult for anyone to break clear of the pack, and with drama never far away expect an upset this weekend.
One wrong move and a driver who looked set for a win might find themselves tumbling down the order. Get shuffled off line at the Grundig Kehre and watch for a train of cars muscling by through the Schöller-S and into the final corner at the Dutzendteich Kehre.
With such a short lap teams will be hoping to find clean air in qualifying, and in the races may commit to an unconventional strategy to make the best of some clear track. Tyre wear will not be as extreme as previous races, however the current hot-spell affecting much of Europe will demand effective management of the Hankook rubber to defend or attack in the final stages.
As the championship nears halfway, those who consider themselves in the title fight will have to race smart to avoid non-scoring races. Off the back of a double podium at Misano, Audi Sport Team Rosberg’s René Rast will be hoping to move on from the bad luck that saw him miss out on a race win for the first weekend in 2019.
The 2017 champion will be seeking to extend his ten point advantage over BMW Team RMR driver Philipp Eng, who is one of the most in form drivers.
After taking only his second ever DTM win last time out, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline’s Nico Müller must produce a pair of great results to close the 17 point gap to Rast.
BMW Team RMG driver Marco Wittmann will do everything to take a victory in front of his home fans, and must score well if he is to get his title assault back on track after retiring from race two at Misano.
Affectionately known as ‘Mr. Norisring’ Audi Sport Team Rosberg driver Jamie Green has notched up the most victories of any driver at the circuit (4), however the Brit was forced to sit out the last round due to appendicitis and will have to score well to not slip out of the top ten in the drivers’ standings.
Race one takes place on Saturday at 13:30 CEST (12:30 BST) with race two on Sunday at the same time.